I was diagnosed in October 2013 and now, in July of 2015 I have finally realized why my breast cancer story matters. I am not on a mission to "find a cure" because that's just too big of a task for little 'ole me. My simple mission is to promote EARLY DETECTION!! 1 in 8 women will get breast cancer. That is just a fact, plain and simple. There is no way of knowing if any cure will be found in my lifetime, but if you are the "1" in 8 that will get this disease, I can only hope that you found it early enough to avoid some of cancer's wrath, which comes from trying to treat it.
I was 40 years old when diagnosed in 2013. My cousin Kelly was 44 years old when she was diagnosed in 2015. We both have estrogen positive breast cancer. We both had a double mastectomy followed by reconstruction. Kelly found her cancer soon enough and thankfully avoided having to go through chemotherapy and radiation. For myself, part of my story includes noticing changes to one of my breasts but not realizing it could possibly be cancer and therefore allowing that tumor to grow for "at least" a year before I got checked. Sadly, my cancer grew and traveled to nearby lymph nodes, which paved way for my chemo and radiation treatment. What angers me about this is that it could have been avoided! Had I been checked when I first noticed changes or had I done self breast exams, I would still have been diagnosed BUT maybe I would not have had to go through the worst possible year of my life, which included the chemo and radiation.
This week, I went to my first Survivorship Program doctor appointment at Upstate Cancer Center. The nurses reviewed my file with me and then we had a long discussion about all the long term effects and possible problems I should watch out for in the future - not due to my cancer, but due to the treatment of my cancer - the chemo and the radiation.
I think I have finally stumbled upon the root of my anger. I am so angry with myself for not paying attention to the signs of breast cancer right in front of my face! For me, anger is a great motivator. I am on a mission. YES, EARLY DETECTION CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE, BUT IT CAN ALSO SAVE YOUR HAIR! (Among other things.)